How history could repeat itself when Leeds United face rearranged Chelsea clash

Leeds United were due to take on Chelsea at Elland Road this weekend for the latest chapter of clashes between the Blues and Whites.

By Lee Sobot
Sunday, 17th April 2022, 10:57 am
Updated Sunday, 17th April 2022, 11:00 am

Instead, Jesse Marsch’s side will have to wait until next month, the fixture having been rearranged due to the Blues’ involvement in the FA Cup.

Wednesday May 11 is the new date for the tie... and a Wednesday night at Elland Road led to misery for the Blues back in April 1998.

Back then, a Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink brace either side of a towering David Wetherall header sunk Gianluca Vialli’s side 3-1 en route to a fifth-place finish for George Graham’s Whites.

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AT THE DOUBLE: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink heads home to complete a brace and net Leeds United's third goal en route to beating Chelsea at Elland Road back in April 1998. Picture by Mark Bickerdike.

Graham’s side had struggled for goals during the previous term, netting just 28 over the whole Premier League campaign, but a solid defence helped them to an 11th-placed finish.

But the acquisition of Hasselbaink from Boavista helped to transform United’s fortunes and the Dutch striker helped himself to a brace against the Blues as part of a

campaign in which he netted 16 goals in the league and 22 in all competitions.

His strikes helped Leeds to secure UEFA Cup football for the following term, during which the David O’Leary glory days first began as the former Whites assistant replaced Graham following his departure for the Tottenham Hotspur job.

Back in April 1998, Chelsea were the ones with a new manager, Vialli having been appointed as player-boss in February as a replacement for the sacked Ruud Gullit.

Vialli then guided the London outfit to Europa Cup Winners Cup glory and a fourth-place finish just three months later... but not without a bump at Elland Road.

Chelsea headed to LS11 on the back of a 1-0 success at Derby County in which Mark Hughes had bagged the winner.

Four days later, Hughes formed the Blues front line alongside Gianfranco Zola as future Leeds forward Tore Andre Flo dropped to the bench.

Two other future Whites players – Michael Duberry and Jody Morris – featured in the Chelsea XI that also included a future Leeds manager in Dennis Wise. Wise, Morris and Eddie Newton made up the Blues midfield, in front of a back line of Duberry, Laurent Charvet, David Lee, Andy Myers and Graeme Le Saux in front of Dmitri Kharine in nets.

Hasselbaink led the line for Leeds, whose XI consisted of Nigel Martyn, Gary Kelly, Martin Hiden, Gunnar Halle, Lucas Radebe, Robert Molenaar, David Wetherall, Ian Harte, Lee Bowyer, Harry Kewell and Hasselbaink upfront.

Mark Beeney, Alf-Inge Haaland, David Hopkin, Lee Matthews and Derek Lilley made up the bench and there were just seven minutes on the clock when Hasselbaink fired the Whites in front.

The striker dropped deep to receive Ian Harte’s throw-in and turned before making his way into space centrally some 25 yards out. The Dutch ace then unleashed a vicious low drive which flew past Kharine and into the back of the net via the right hand post for his 17th goal of the campaign.

United’s lead only lasted four minutes as Chelsea drew level from a throw-in of their own, Hughes winning a header near the byline and the ball falling perfectly for Charvet to unleash a half-volley into the far left corner.

But the Whites went back ahead just 15 minutes later as a perfectly-delivered free-kick from Kelly into the box picked out Wetherall,who sent a superb header into the top right corner past Kharine.

This time there was no Blues comeback and Hasselbaink put Leeds 3-1 up just two minutes after the break as another headed finish beat Kharine.

Harte provided the cross and his delivery from the left flank flew through the area and evaded all comers apart from Hasselbaink arriving at the back post.

Kharine got his hands to it but the ball was already over the line and Leeds were also home and hosed for a memorable win against their bitter rivals.

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